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A terminal fit for a Hyperloop?


September 12, 2013

Roux claims that his proposal will support the same passenger throughput while allowing individual passengers 20 percent more time to get on or off Hyperloop capsules (Image: Serge Roux) (Image: Serge Roux)

Roux claims that his proposal will support the same passenger throughput while allowing individual passengers 20 percent more time to get on or off Hyperloop capsules (Image: Serge Roux) (Image: Serge Roux)

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If Elon Musk's Hyperloop is to come to fruition, it's going to need passenger terminals. But where Musk's design proposes terminals with turntables to rotate transport capsules, industrial designer Serge Roux has come up with an alternative, and one which lives up to the Hyperloop brand. Roux's idea is much like a gondola cable car system, involving an endless loop (you see) to and from which passengers embark and disembark at either end. Roux maintains that this idea saves time, space, and has fewer parts to go wrong.

Roux claims that his proposal will support the same passenger throughput while allowing individual passengers 20 percent more time to get on or off Hyperloop capsules. Perhaps more significantly, Roux claims that his idea requires half the space, and perhaps less, of Musk's. Overall, the size of the terminal would be a slightly smaller than the Grand Central terminal building, disregarding its platforms.

Though the transit time from Los Angeles to San Francisco is slated at 30 minutes, Roux claims that the total time for a journey will be 40, on average, due to the time required to compress and decompress airlocks as capsules enter and exit the Hyperloop's main tubes, as well as taxiing time between the decompression chambers and platforms. However, Roux argues that this overall time is similar to or less than the total required in a so-called multiplexed station with a rotating turntable as proposed by Musk.

Though speculative, Roux has clearly thought looked in detail at Musk's Hyperloop proposal, and considered the detailed implications of his own design. For instance, he realises that the curvature of his building will create a gap between the capsules and arrival platforms of up to 1.3 m (4.3 ft), and so a retractable gangways will be required.

More details of the proposal can be seen on Roux's website.

Source: Serge Roux, via Wired

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life. All articles by James Holloway

Doesn't matter the efficiency of the hyperloop would not pay for financing the construction of the tunnels. It won't be built.


I just like to add that life taught me probably 3 stages are necessary: 1. disembark - 2. clean vehicle - 3. embarking Especially when you are cramped 30 minutes in a sonic-speed-can you will appreciate a clean waggon.


One thing Roux needs to add is a big bathroom at the departure and arrival stage. Everybody will have to 'go try' before getting on as there is no onboard bathroom, and unless you brought a bottle nothing to do but painfully hold it through several changes in G force. I also agree that cleaning time must be included, as rapid deceleration will cause some to wet themselves, because they didn't take the time to go before getting on.


I suppose the Hyperloop would be impractical as a replacement for HS2 in the UK? The distances are considerably shorter around 100 miles London to Birmingham, and only 200 miles to Manchester. Would be a nice alternative and could solve a few of the arguments.


Disney's "Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover"

Brian Trembley

What is the total cost/benefit ratio here? The building of it even after all of the foreseen bugs have been worked out of the system (highly doubtful, given the current level of engineering expertise we see all around us each day) will be terribly expensive. How many commuters will be needed to maintain its viability after the break-even point has been reached? It will probably be a dilapidated system long before that time comes. And then even MORE government subsidies will be needed after the ones procured for its construction. Our fiat paper currency system is collapsing as I write this, the economy is going further into the toilet, more people are out of work, and so how will there be enough travelers to justify the starting up of such a project? If and when we go back to a sound monetary system, then we can entertain such fanciful thoughts once more.

Expanded Viewpoint

Slowburn has touched on the relevant topic:

the tunnels

Here are the relevant problems:

smoothness and accuracy of the walls over hundreds of miles, with the inherent high cost. Tunnel must be an "active system", constantly readjusting its position. weight of the tunnels dictates the number of "pylons" and the cost of the pylons. The number of pylons (20,000 est??) must be cut down. I suggest a composite, not welded, tunnel, of nested layers. noise generation, and reflected noise in a tunnel. At 700 mph, the amount of noise from the active machinery within each capsule, reflected on surfaces, may be very intense. "hunting" > currently, trains on two rails 'hunt' back and forth horizontally, due to track irregularities. This is dampened by weight of the train. With a non-contact vehicle (air bearings) a similar "hunting may occur with three axes of motion. Right now, Airbus passenger craft often "hunt" while gaining altitude, and they do not have the effects of a tunnel.

This Hyperloop idea is going to require a long test track to unlock all the "known unknowns" and the "unknown unknowns". The terminal itself is the least of the problems.

Scott in California

Looks like Load/Unload at Spaceship Earth at EPCOT.


Features to add to center:

Bridge or tunnel to Hotel/ shopping area Parking for cars Bus depot Heliport? Med center Customs center IE San Diego Hyperloop to/from Mexico?, Security center offices Hyperloop capsule service center & yard Tunnel test equip & sensor arrays Control Center. Solar arrays LENR fuel cells for aux power Tourism center Food court Rental car & taxi center.

Big plus: local jobs at each station center built IF funded.

Stephen Russell

@Expanded Japan has already run into that problem with their Tokyo Bay bridge and tunnel, AKA "Aqua-Line" or "Trans-Tokyo Bay Highway".

When it opened the toll each way was equivalent to $70 USD. Almost nobody used it. In a magazine article on it, the author went through it with the architect who designed it.

They met ONE vehicle going the other way. The architect pointed and said "Look! Look! There's one!" The toll had just been lowered to $50 each way for the type of vehicle they used.

Today the toll runs from 2400 to 8250 Yen or about $24 to $83, depending on the size and type of vehicle.

The problem people have in Tokyo is the majority live on the north side of the bay and work on the south side. The commute usually takes around 90 minutes. The Aqua-Line shortens it to 15 minutes, but most of the millions of commuters can't afford it. (Tokyo's population is over 13 million.)

For Hyperloop to succeed it will have to be a cheap ride, preferably without any government subsidy.

Gregg Eshelman

me again. You can compare the effort when looking at the German "Transrapid" magnetic levitation train system, which runs now in China. However, I assume the Hyperloop to be at least one order of magnitude more complex. But my guess is that if Hyperloop can be implemented at all, then in California by a determined visionary with a full wallet.

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